Review Summary: fighting our demons won't save us forever.
The concept of life and death is such a fickle topic. We can’t stay here forever, and it’s intriguing that some people can’t understand that. Imagine growing older, weaker, watching the same sunrises or sunsets, and having to deal with those things forever. Death needs to come for us eventually; it’s the only thing that will keep us all sane. The same concept goes for Brand New. Not that they’re the same thing; clearly even as high-caliber of a band like Brand New is, they are no more than humans just like us. Coming off the heels of albums like Daisy
and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
, which are so renowned and at times mysterious, there’s not much of a better way to release it than how they did. They knew Science Fiction
was going to leak; that was their intention, it had to be. They couldn’t keep us waiting forever. After 3 of their 4 albums have started leaning closer and closer to becoming classics of not only the generation, but in music as a whole, they were running out of time to follow up an album like Daisy
; let alone Deja Entendu
or The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me
The legacy of a band can be such a fickle thing on its own. Take a band like Oasis for example, people believed that after What’s The Story (Morning Glory)
, Oasis would go on to be the next Beatles, cementing their legacy, but after Oasis released albums like Be Here Now
and Heathen Chemistry
, the band slipped. They slipped hard. So the opportunity for a band like Brand New to have a similar slip-up is still more than possible, especially after teasing fans in the years between Daisy
and Science Fiction
with increasingly lackluster singles such as “I Am A Nightmare” and the Fight Off Your Demons
demos. So for a band so renowned as Brand New, where would they go from here? Where could they go from here? After a while, the question became would they go anywhere at all? After years of mysterious decisions from delaying releases to announcing their demise after 2018, hope for new content started to dissipate like a burning rope.
But hope is such a fickle topic in the end. In a world where negativity and constant loss of hope wander among us to the point that as humans we barely realize how consistent that hopeless wandering is. The idea of a new album being released started to wander that same exact path. The thing is, we can never lose hope, it’s what keeps us human beings. Without hope, we would be nothing. The band dropped Science Fiction
in such a way that at surface level it might just seem like creative marketing. I, on the other hand, feel as it was a way to prove a point. No matter how close to the bottom of the sea we get, there will always be something to pull us back up. This is what Science Fiction
was to represent, hope. It was the bait to haul the fans out of the rut in the best damn way possible.
The way the album expresses this ideology is incomparable to anything else I’ve listened to before. I’m almost at a loss of words for what I can compare Science Fiction
to. Of course, calling this the greatest piece of music would be a major overstatement, and a bit preemptive, yet the individuality and uniqueness it showcases is unparalleled by any other record I’ve personally heard in my life. The album pulls from previous influences, taking the fighting attitude of Daisy
while withdrawing the loss of control and spiraling void of existence from The Devil and God
into a melancholic, realistic aura found in Science Fiction
. Musically, the record almost reminds me of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
. Much like the novel, the album showcases imagery of loss of innocence and burning the forest down with songs like “451” yet it pulls itself back together with songs like the closing opus “Batter Up”. The production provides vast soundscapes to perfectly encapsulate everything Brand New tries to convey with these pieces of music. The bluesy garage influences of the aforementioned “451” ascend to the skies and the fuzzy shoegaze-influenced guitars take over like a flash flood of color to contrast the dark, ambient feel that a lot of moments on the record have to offer. The lead in from “451” into closing swan-song “Batter Up” changes dynamics completely and proves Brand New can craft some of the most well structured transitions in today’s music, evidenced by the song “Batter Up”, which shifts into an epic post-rock influenced piece akin to The World Is A Beautiful Place to end off the record gracefully, giving not only the perfect end to an epic but the perfect end of an era.
also lyrically is more of an honest effort compared to its former counterparts. Long gone are the arrogant romantics of Deja Entendu
or the exaggerated pessimism that The Devil and God
occasionally showcased. Jesse Lacey seems to be at a war with these two sides of himself, describing his internal conflicts on songs like “Can’t Get It Out” where Lacey cries out ”I thought I was a creator // Now we’re just hanging around // Got my messiah impression // I think I got him nailed down.”
Other lines such as ”I’m just a manic depressant // Toting around to my own crowd // I’ve got a positive messages // Sometimes i can’t get it out.”
that give an outside-looking-in perspective to what’s going on with Lacey internally that on previous records be somewhat ambiguous unless you really analyzed the content and context of the lyrics beyond surface level. The lyrical ideologies that Lacey portrays on Science Fiction
feel introspective and existential without feeling melodramatic whatsoever. His soft spoken introspective talks of not losing hope, and drowning in the grace fit the triumphant instrumentation melancholically yet realistically as well. With Science Fiction
, Jesse Lacey finally took his time to stare in the mirror and write about what he saw, because that’s what we needed; it’s what he
With Science Fiction
, Brand New managed to squander all expectations thrown their way and then some, with some of the most well conceived ideas the band has ever had being on display, firing on all cylinders. The dynamics of the production and peaked instrumentation provide so many vast soundscapes that all flow so perfectly together, no other group of individuals could be able to pull it off the same way. The more-than-ever introspective lyrics from Lacey transcend that surface level immediately and jump into his book of thoughts so well, articulated with infinitely more maturity than some of the melodramatic content found on previous efforts. Science Fiction
displays that quality only comes with time while playing as a rallying cry for the end of an era in the most ravishing way possible, as the flags come down from its hinges ever so gracefully.